The Tale of Two Races: Hyannis and Salem

I confess I have a slight race obsession. I just can’t help the love I have for the high I feel when I cross that start line with other people that love running just as much as I do (some probably even more!). There’s a certain exhilaration that you get when running through the streets that are usually filled with cars, not having to dodge pedestrians on the side walk and people that aren’t running staring at you like you’re completing some amazing feat. I mean you are accomplishing something big whether you win or come in last, whether it’s your first race or 100th. You’re doing something others can’t. Plus, I love the feel of the medal around my neck after I cross that finish line and search for the nearest bottle of water.

But not all races are created equal. Yes, there’s 5ks and marathons, ironmans and road races. But even the body that you have prepared for that day may not be the same as it was the day before the weekend before. Boy did I learn that the hard way. 

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On February 28th I participated in the Hyannis Half Marathon down on the Cape. As you know, the weekend before I ran an awesome half marathon, I may not have gotten a PR or anything but it was fun and I felt great after running 13.1 miles. This weekend, not so much. The night before I was up late because I had a fundraiser event for the Boston Marathon. I didn’t eat my usual pre-race meal and I had a few (see: 3 ciders) drinks. This messed me up. Three miles into the race, I looked at my friend who caught up to me after I had slowed down significantly and said, “I don’t think I can run another 10 miles.”

Let me tell you, this is the only race that I have EVER seriously considered quitting. I was nauseated, IMG_2366dehydrated and I hurt all over. I was able to stay with her for the first seven miles after she generously gave me one of her shot bloks. But after that I just couldn’t keep up. Every step was more labored, my breathing heavy and my stomach volatile. I had my honey stinger gel which usually gives me a burst of energy, but even that failed me this day. I walked a lot, I promised Jesus (I’m not very religious but some times I can ask him for help) that I wouldn’t drink again until after Boston. Haha, silly but true. I did finally cross the finish line…the slowest I’ve ever done (even slower than the weekend before and stopping to take pictures!), but I finished. Then I threw up, three times.IMG_2363

Fast forward to two weeks later and I’m at the Salem Black Cat 20 miler. The longest run I’ve taken on to date (I will be breaking that this weekend as I take on the first 21 miles of the Boston marathon route…home field advantage has its perks!). I followed my pre race rituals to protocol. I had chicken parm for dinner, I hydrated properly all day and I went to black cat1bed early. I felt great and ready to go the next day. Aside from a minor slip up (okay, major), where my nutrition for the race (one honey stringer gel and one pack of clif shot bloks) fell out of my pocket at the start line, the run went really well. Since I had a lack of sugar in body, I did hit a wall at 16 miles and I had to turn to a run/walk. I ran as hard as I could for 2 minutes and walked a minute for the remaining 4 miles. I missed my goal by only 4 minutes which I don’t think is too bad considering.

Just goes to show, even though I did 6.9 miles more that weekend than I had 2 weekends before, preparation makes a huge difference. As I approach these final weeks of marathon training I’m sticking to my plan. I’m not drinking until post marathon (oh I can’t wait for that post race cider!!!) and before every long run I’m making sure I don’t disrupt my flow. Even though the road to Boston has not been easy for me between bad races, fundraising stress and injuries, I’m determined to get to that finish line feeling good about how far I’ve come!!! IMG_2410
And there is me cheesing as I cross that finish line!
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Whole 30 Week 2

 

Week two is in the books of the Whole 30. I won’t lie. I was craving donuts at the beginning of the week. Really badly. I almost broke down. But the thought of going back to constantly feeling bloated and burping all the time deterred me. Plus I want to do this the right way. I’m also feeling better in my own skin again. Can somebody say hello abs? These babies haven’t made an appearance in years. Per the rules of the Whole 30 I have no weighed myself. But I’m loving what I see!!image1

Week 2 menu:

Breakfast: Southwest Breakfast Casserole

Lunch: Spaghetti Squash and meatballs

Dinner: Chicken Stir Fry

Southwest Breakfast Casserole

I was surprised by this one, I usually don’t like ground chicken. It’s just weird to me, but I enjoyed this recipe!

1 red bell pepperIMG_2027
1 green bell pepper
1 onion
1 lb ground chicken
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
7 oz can of chopped green chili

6 eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Chop peppers and onion and cook them in a skillet until onion is translucent. Set aside to cool. Add chicken to skillet and juice from the green chili, cook until slightly browned. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and coconut milk. Once the chicken and veggies are cooled to room temperature mix into eggs and pour into a 9-in greased pie pan. Bake for 35-40 min!

Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs

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Probably my favorite meal this week. I didn’t even miss real pasta and the spaghetti squash was surprisingly filling!

1 lb grass fed ground beef
1 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 tsp rosemary
2 medium sized spaghetti squash
24 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 onion, chopped
1 egg

In large bowl mix together the ground beef, basil, oregano, rosemary, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and coconut flour. Mix together with hands until well incorporated, add in egg and continue to mix. Form into large meatballs, about 6-8. Grease skillet, brown meatballs on each side. You don’t have to cook thoroughly, they will cook in the crock pot. Add meat balls to slow cooker, top meat balls with tomatoes, onion and garlic. Serve with fresh basil and spaghetti squash.

Chicken Stir Fry

IMG_2075 (1)So I kind of winged this one. There’s no real recipe, I just took a chicken breast and whatever vegetables I had (mushroom, spinach, pepper, and onion) and sauteed it all together in some coconut oil. It was pretty bland so I found a Whole 30 approved Tahini sauce at Trader Joe’s and added that. It made a HUGE difference. Some times you just have to experiment and see what works for you. I have to say that my meals are usually anything BUT boring!

 

 

Here are some other meals that I tried during the weekend:

 

Sweet potato hash with eggs:

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Prosciutto wrapped chicken thighs with a baked potato and side salad:

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B Good Burger with no bun, avocado and an egg with sweet potato fries:  IMG_2054

The Whole 30 Week 1

With week one under my belt I can definitely tell that my stomach has been so much better (aka less burps) . It’s hard to say energy wise how I’m doing since I just added a second job on top of a full time job and training for a marathon. But I have no cravings for any of the off limit foods and I think it’s because I’ve had good meals to look forward to.

Week 1 meal plan was the following:

Breakfast- Spaghetti squash quiche

Lunch- Chicken tenders with roasted potatoes and broccoli

Dinner- Sweet potato chili

 

Spaghetti Squash QuicheIMG_1999

This was probably my favorite of the week. I didn’t even miss the cheese that I would usually put in an egg-y dish!

1 spaghetti squash

6 whole eggs

Mixings of your choosing: I used 5 slices of bacon, mushrooms and spinach

Bake spaghetti squash at 350 for 40 min, remove and leg cool. Once cooled use fork to remove the squash from shell. Take a 9 in greased pie pan and smoosh the squash to the sides of the pan so it creates a “crust.” Place chopped mixings into the crust

In a separate bowl whisk together the 6 eggs. Pour over the mixings in the crust and then bake for about 40 min or until egg has settled.

About 5 servings

 

Chicken tenders

These were super tasty, but I think next time I’ll pan fry them and then stick them in the oven for a little bit too.

IMG_19941 lb chicken tenders

1 egg

1 tbsp unsweetened coconut milk or other nondairy milk of your choosing

1/2 cup coconut flour

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

 

 

In a mixing bowl whisk together the egg and unsweetened coconut milk.

In a second bowl combine the coconut flour, garlic powder and salt.

Dredge the chicken in the egg mixture and coat with the coconut flour mixture. Lightly fry in a pan with coconut oil until cooked all the way through.

 

Sweet Potato Chili

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I was skeptical of this meal because I’m so used to traditional bean chili topped with cheese. But this was delicious all on its own. When shopping for the ingredients for this recipe though, make sure you’re reading labels to make sure you’re not buying anything with added sugar to it.

1 onion (chopped)

1 15oz can tomato sauce IMG_1992

1 15 oz can diced tomato

1 can water

1 large sweet potato, chopped into 1 inch cubes

1 lb ground beef

1 1/2 tbsp cocao powder

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp oregano

2 garlic cloves, minced

Salt to taste

Place all ingredients in crock pot, breaking up beef before putting it in. Cook and low for 8-10 hours. Enjoy!

Grokker Review

As a Sweat Pink Ambassador, I get a chance to review run products. This post is spoonsored by Grokker and I received a free three month trail to facilitate my honest review. The post may also contain affiliate links.

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If you’ve kept up with my blog, you know I hit a rut last year when it came with fitness (if you haven’t check out the post here: https://christinemince.com/2015/04/30/finding-my-balance-and-not-tipping-over/). This year I made it a goal to try out different work outs and fall in love with working out all over again, but between training for my races and my wacky work schedule sometimes it’s hard to get to different studios with a strict schedule.

So when I got chosen for the Grokker campaign I was super excited! I could do some cool work outs without having to adhere to someone else’s schedule or worry about travel. I also sometimes have to get my work outs in at 4am and with it getting darker out earlier and public transportation doesn’t start until 5:30am in Boston, I can get my work outs done without leaving my home!!!

My favorite work outs were definitely the HIIT ones, I like a nice short and sweet work out and these were short enough that I could do 2 or 3 videos hitting different body parts. Here’s one example of the videos I tried out!

https://grokker.com/p/j/bio3qyr4xb31

I also really liked the pilates and barre work outs. I teach barre myself so these gave me tons of new moves for my class! Lastly, I really enjoyed the spin classes! I love to spin, but as I said before it’s hard for me to fit classes in my busy schedule. I recently got a bike trainer so that I can use my own bike as a stationary one, and these classes are perfect to help keep my motivated for an hour and really challenge me!

I loved Grokker because there pretty much is something for everyone to try out and discover something they may not try with a lot of people watching them in class or too scared to even try it out.

Check out Grokker for yourself! Use the code: 99CENTS for 99 cents for first month of premium or you can win a free 3 month premium membership if you follow me, Grokker and Fitapproach  on instagram and tag a friend to win a free 3 months of premium membership to their site!

Triathlon Gear: the beginners guide

This week has been leading up to my last triathlon of the season, and as I was creating my packing list for race day I have learned to appreciate how little you need to run. Tri’s require A LOT of gear. Yes, some people take the minimalist approach, but let’s be real I’m a gear addict so I just dove right in. This is pretty much where all my money has gone this year. I thought I’d share my list and what I think you absolutely need not only for training but also for race day if you’re thinking about trying out a triathlon of any distance.
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Swim:
Wet suit: this one you don’t absolutely need one, but if you’re new to open water swims I highly recommend it for several reasons.
1. It helps with confidence in the open water, basically you’re wearing a full body flotation device
2. If you’re in the northeast or anywhere with cold water like I am, it helps keep you warm
3. It makes you faster being covered in one slick piece of material
Gog   FullSizeRendergles: kind of obvious, get good ones though, the cheap ones start to leak after a couple months.
Bathing suit: I got one on sale at City Sports….these can be expensive!!!
Swim cap: I got one for long hair to keep this mane in place, those of you with short hair are lucky! They are required at a race though, they have you one of a specific color for your swim wave.
Tri suit: I don’t have a full body suit but I do have a tri top and shorts. It’s not like regular work out gear, you wear it under your wet suit and it doesn’t absorb as much water and dries faster. Next year I want a full one because my top always rides up!
Bike:
Bike: well duh, Christine. I already had a bike, a Trek hybrid. But if you look back in my posts, I ended up getting a new road bike. The hybrid was so heavy and made riding not as much fun! On the road bike I’m faster, it’s easier to transport because it’s lighter and I’m sitting in a more comfortable position (in my opinion). Definitely get a bike that you’re fitted for your bike, believe me it’s so important to have the right size in order to prevent injury!FullSizeRender (1)
Clip in shoes/pedals: I just recently got my pedals and I LOVE being clipped in, I can engage my hamstrings more (saves those quads for the run!) and every time I hit a bump my foot doesn’t fly off the pedal. Yes it makes riding a bit trickier if you have to stop and go, but practice in a parking lot so that you get used to it first!
Helmet: mine is a cheap one from Target
Pump: you always want to keep your tires at the right inflation!
Trainer: I live in Boston so it’s hard to find a good place to ride without fear of being hit by a car so I got a bike trainer. It basically makes your bike into a stationary bike. I like this better than using a spin or regular stationary bike because I can get used to changing gears and the feel of my own bike.
Run:
Phew the leg of a tri with the least amount of gear!!
FullSizeRender (3)Shoes: obviously. Once again, get fitted. It’s so important to wear the right kind of shoe for your foot/body. It will save you from injury in the long run.
Lock laces: doesn’t necessarily have to be this brand, but basically it’s elastic laces so you can just slip your shoes on and not worry about having to lace up during the transition!
Race belt: save some time by not having to pin on your number! Just throw on this belt right before your run and you’re number ready (don’t forget it like I did at my first race!).
There’s still so much other gear that I want just because. But I’ve made it through this year with just this. Some things on my wish list (if you want to contribute! 😉 ) are:
Garmin 920, it does it all. Track swim, bike and run.
Bike gloves add some padding to my palms for long rides
Bike pouch always want to have the right tools!
Flip belt to carry my stuff on long runs
Goggles…I’ll admit it. I got cheap ones and now they leak 😦
Happy swimming, biking and running!

How running helped me overcome my eating disorder

Eating disorders are a subject that people often dance around, too afraid to talk about. I used to be one of those people, because I was always too afraid to admit that I was sick. I never thought that I had one because I was never “sick looking” enough. I never toed that dangerous line of extreme emaciation, but inside I was a complete mess.
 It’s no secret that eating disorders mostly effect women (but I know there are men image1out there that do struggle with them as well), but when it comes to athletes, the chances increase because so much is focused on our bodies and how they perform. More often than not that thoughts “If I just lose a few more pounds I’ll be faster, more agile, jump higher….” etc. I know I constantly had those thoughts as a competitive cheerleader and a dancer, where image was everything. As I got older, I decided to try out bikini competitions, another sport where everything focused on your image. I started working out harder to feed this disease that was eating at me from the inside out. I battled with anorexia and bulimia for 14 years before I decided enough was enough.
image2These past two years I have slowly overcome something I’ve battled with for half my life. I’ve stopped focusing on whats in the mirror and more on what my body can do. This past year I’ve really focused on training for a half marathon and sprint distance triathlons. Running, swimming and biking have given my life back to me. I’m no longer focusing on how little I can eat but what I can do, and if I don’t fuel properly I’m not going to do well.
 I remember one particularly bad run I had this past year, I didn’t eat enough the two days prior and I set out for a 9 mile long distance run. About mile 3, I hit a wall. My legs didn’t want to move anymore, my heart was racing and my eye sight became fuzzy. That’s when I realized I couldn’t let myself go down that path again. I suddenly had this hunger to do well, and not just burn off calories. I started to track my work outs as opposed to my food and focused on seeing those numbers improve while still eating over 1000 calories and not scrutinizing every little bite. I love seeing number average times on runs and swims decrease and my body adapt to my training.
I won’t say that I’m fully recovered. There are some days where I have to fight the urge to binge and purge or not eat at all to make up for a bad weekend. But everyday I’m fighting to nurture my body and gain my inner strength through my sport.

Knock knock. Who’s there? Orange Theory Fitness

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Last time I talked about how I’ve been trying out different work outs, and I wanted to share some of them with you!  Honestly, I feel like a kid in a candy shop lately. I love it all, I want to do it all. Sadly, there just isn’t enough time in the day or week for me to do everything AND work AND sleep.
One of the work outs I tried was Orange Theory Fitness. Basically, it’s an interval heart rate based work out where half of the work out might be on the treadmill and/or the rower while the other half involves weights, the TRX and various body weight exercises. I found OTF because apparently Facebook knows that I’m into fitness and kept throwing it all my ads and sponsored posts so I figured I would give it a try. After all, your first class is FREE!
The first day going in, (I went with my boyfriend aka dragged him out of bed at 6:45am) the front desk staff was super friendly and helped us get set up for our first session. They explained to us the different color zones for your heart rate: white for basically resting, blue for the warm up, green which means you’re working, orange which is the goal zone for optimum results and red for WHOA your heart rate is way too high. They also let us know that if we weren’t into running, there was also an elliptical and bike as available options. After that they provided with a strap to wear the heart rate pod around our chest and we filed into the work out room with a high five from the instructor.
That first class was awesome, for the first half we alternated back and forth between the treadmill and the rower and the second half we worked on power/strength. I loved it, the instructor was encouraging but not too pushy, and the hour flew by (I’m guilty of staring at the clock during spin class). We liked it so much….Rob and I both signed up for 1 time a week for 3 months.
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However, the work outs are different. Every single day. Some are awesome like that first day. Some leave little to love behind. To tell the truth, the instructor does make a big difference. Even though they are all giving the same work out, the delivery does make a huge difference. For example, I’ve been training for a half marathon which means some days I have some soreness and running isn’t the best option for me. One time I mentioned not running to the instructor and she kind of made me feel bad for not pushing past the pain. Others also offer more direction than others. If you’re new to lifting, OTF might not be the best work out for you to go to learn how to do it with proper form. You’re constantly moving and everyone is going at their own pace and the instructor is guiding two different groups, form is not something that is focused on.
All in all, it’s a great work out and differently has it’s place in your weekly routine. I know it’s helped with my endurance capacity, which has been important for the races I’m training for. However, beware that if you don’t know an exercise, all you really have for guidance is a video up on the screen. I definitely recommend trying it out for yourself and just go into with an open mind!

Body Weight Circuit

In my last post I talked about how to travel without disembarking from your fitness goals. Well, there are also some days you just don’t feel like working out and you need tell yourself that you will at least try to do 10 minutes. If you can’t make it to the gym or you’re on the road and don’t like running or hiking, try this quick 10 minute circuit that can be done anywhere:

Fat-Burning Circuit: Perform each exercise for 45 sec and rest for 15 sec in between each one. Repeat 2x
A1: Air Squats
A2: Push Ups
A3: Squat Jumps
A4: Plank
A5: Burpees
Now, wasn’t that fun?

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Traveling, fitness and nutrition

Traveling doesn’t mean that you have to lose sight of your fitness goals.

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I’ve run in a lot of really cool places, the beaches of Puerto Rico, the streets of London, wooded trails in North Carolina and many more. I’ve hiked and walked in some great places, too. As a matter of fact, when I travel – my workouts are always pretty interesting. Traveling does bring some challenges because it also forces you to make changes to your normal routine but those changes can actually be really great for your fitness goals. Why? Because it reminds you that fitness can be fun!

Fitness on the go doesn’t have to be stressful or as carefully planned during our every day lives. Plan your work outs into your vacation so that you can really SEE the place you’re in. It can be as easy at putting on your sneakers and exploring or it can take a bit of planning; here are some of ways to fit workouts into your vacation and make them fun:

  1. Check a map before you go. Know where you’re going to be so that you can plan your walks or workouts ahead. It will also help you plan your day, knowing how long your walk/run will be.
  2. Check your location for studios – I love hopping into a local yoga class while I’m away
  3. Ask the concierge. There’s always a fitness-buff on staff, they’ll point you in his/her direction
  4. Check out the hotel gym, come up with a creative circuit of exercises that are certain to make you sweat. Do it twice.
  5. If you’re somewhere warm – SWIM.  Need I say more?
  6. Take advantage the landscape around you.  Run hills, hike in the woods, walk on the beach. Enjoy your surroundings with the person/people you’ve traveled with!

Nutrition might be a little bit trickier, you’re not always preparing your own food and vacation is generally a time to indulge! I’m not discouraging eating out or having a few drinks, but try not to binge every meal! Here are some tips to eating while traveling:

Plan:

-Research restaurants and grocery stores

-Use apps like “Healthy Out” to find healthy options

-Find a hotel room with a kitchenette to make simple meals

Pack Smart:

-Pack snacks like dried fruit, nuts, protein powder and homemade bars

-Pack supplements like vitamins and fish oil

-Pack work out clothes!

Drink Plenty of Water:

-This will help keep you full and curb your appetite

High Intensity Interval Work outs

When it comes to fat burning, the most pervasive methodology involves interminable sessions of cardiovascular activity done at a steady state. Where cardio is concern, the theory has always been more

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is better for fat loss. However, this methodology is quickly becoming old news in the light of HIIT work outs. Yes, with HIIT, the work outs are shorter, but you’ll actually be working harder than if you used the elliptical for an hour. Think about it this way, what burns more gas, stop and go city traffic for 20 minutes or putting your car in cruise control and going down the high for an hour? The stop and go traffic is going to burn up more of your fuel than going down the highway, and same holds for your body.

Here are some benefits from a HIIT work out:
  • HIIT trains and conditions both your anaerobic and aerobic energy systems. You train your anaerobic system with brief, all-out efforts, like when you have to push to make it up a hill, sprint the last few hundred yards of a distance race, or run and hide from your spouse when they won’t stop nagging you about the dishes.
  • HIIT increases the amount of calories you burn during your exercise session and afterward because it increases the length of time it takes your body to recover from each exercise session.
  • HIIT causes metabolic adaptations that enable you to use more fat as fuel under a variety of conditions. This will improve your athletic endurance as well as your fat-burning potential.
  • HIIT appears to limit muscle loss that can occur with weight loss, in comparison to traditional steady-state cardio exercise of longer duration.
  • To get the benefits HIIT, you need to push yourself past the upper end of your aerobic zone and allow your body to replenish your anaerobic energy system during the recovery intervals.​
So, what exactly is a HIIT work out? Well, HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training and that means you work as hard as you can for a certain amount of time and then break for another block of time and repeat as many times as desired. Usually a HIIT work out lasts no longer than 20-30 minutes.
Now that you know how a HIIT work out can benefit you, let’s take your cardio off the treadmill and try out this HIIT work out:
Do each exercise for 30 seconds with a 30 second break in between. Repeat for 3 rounds!
Body weight squat
Med Ball Slam​
Push up
TRX row
Forward lunges​

Big Rope Drills
Plank with shoulder tap
Step-up
Wall Ball